Psychological Safety has been extra buzzy lately, and we’re on board with this particular trend.
Psychological Safety centers on the idea that team members can take risks, voice their thoughts, and be creative without fear from their company, leader, or coworkers. It’s the feeling of being accepted, being able to express crazy ideas, and being innovative without getting negative pushback or punishment.
There’s a reason this topic is noteworthy for teams. Google found Psychological Safety to be one of five factors that set apart successful teams from unsuccessful ones in their company. And in their research, Psychological Safety was by far the most contributing factor to a team’s success. It outranked Dependability, Structure and Clarity, Meaning of Work, and Impact. This data showed that feeling safe to express your opinions mattered more to the group’s success than feeling like your work had meaning. Talk about an important concept!
Psychological Safety is essential, but it’s not easy. Below are a few lessons before implementing it in your organization.
It’s Going To Be Uncomfortable.
It is necessary for a team to feel safe to express new ideas and try experimental concepts. But don’t get the idea of safety confused with comfort. Psychological Safety often leads to cool new ideas, but as any leader knows, change also brings feelings of discomfort. Shane Snow perfectly highlights that psychological safety is not the same as comfort in this analogy: “a good fitness trainer will help you to safely exercise and grow your muscles. And you will be uncomfortable. But you will be safe.”
It’s Your Job As The Leader To Start
Your job as the leader is to set the tone. You should be making your team feel Psychologically Safe through your actions and behaviors. Do you want your team to come up with innovative solutions? Invite them to throw ideas your way. This means you will need to listen to some weird, unsettling, and, yes, even bad ideas. But the process of brainstorming is like that. You will have a lot of bad ideas before coming up with ones that will work. Mistakes will happen. That is just the nature of new endeavors. You have to be okay with that and encourage people to try. A Psychologically Safe team will never exist without the leader’s initiative.
It’s All About Trust.
You will see a lot of articles talking about how Psychological Safety and Trust are different and that the two concepts are very separate and distinct. But we think that trust is a major component of Psychologically Safe teams. Safe teams trust each other. They trust that their teammates will accept them. They trust that their ideas or thoughts won’t be dismissed or ignored by their group. Teams that trust each other will naturally lead to Psychological Safety and vice versa. They are interwoven concepts and play a big role in each other’s success. If you want to have a team that values Psychological Safety, build trust.
VOLUNTEER UNIVERSITY NEWS
We recently released our new book: VOL U 101: Introduction to Volunteering. It may sound like an introductory course in volunteer management, but don’t let the title fool you. The book covers everything from volunteer recruitment to retention and everything in between. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who leads teams. Get your copy HERE.